Relate Well! Blog

Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development

"But I Don't Like Confrontation"

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone always got along and communication was always agreeable? That, of course, is a fantasy that will never happen as long as human beings co-exist on Earth. The reality is that there are times when discussions must take place that involve disagreement or confrontation of a behavior or situation that needs to change, whether you like it or not. You may know someone who enjoys a good argument or seems to relish stirring up discussion about difficult subjects, but that doesn’t describe most people. It is more likely that you would rather run the other direction – and you are not alone!

I would have to say that fear of confrontation is one of the most common issues many of my clients face. It’s not uncommon for people to literally become sick to their stomachs at the thought of having to confront for fear of having it turn into a conflict or facing the possibility of rejection. Consequently, these same people often experience low...

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Earning the Trust of Your Employees

We live in unsettling times in many ways. We are constantly reminded of the need to protect ourselves from identity thieves, credit card scammers, people laying in wait in parking lots to hi-jack vehicles and sociopaths tampering with packaging in the grocery store. We are bombarded with headlines that scream about lies from politicians, fraud by financiers and broken trust in celebrity marriages. Almost everywhere you turn, you are warned not to trust anyone. We are conditioned to withhold trust.

This conditioning impacts every area of life, and the workplace is no exception. In my work with organizations I often discover that there is a common problem for leaders – employees who don’t trust them. The challenge for leaders and managers today is breaking down the barriers of suspicion and self-protection and learn how to earn the trust of their employees.

I came across an article in Forbes Magazine by Glenn Llopis that listed seven characteristics that undermine the...

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Leadership vs. Management

If an organization of any kind is going to function successfully, it needs both leadership and management. While some people use those terms interchangeably, they are, in fact, distinctly different and valuable functions in order to create an environment of productivity and performance.

Leaders, in the simplest terms, are people that other people follow. Think about someone who inspires you to want to participate in a cause, goal or vision. Who do you know that makes you say, “I want to be part of what he or she is doing?” Leaders cast the vision and move things and people forward.

While great leaders may motivate you to be part of something by stirring your desire to participate, they don’t always possess the organizational skills or attention to detail required to make the vision happen. A successful organization needs someone who can provide structure and efficient processes in order to accomplish the goal. Even lofty ideals need to be upheld by someone...

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Sincere Encouragement Breeds Success

If you have the responsibility of managing employees, you are well aware that their performance has a huge impact on your job satisfaction and on the success of your business or department. Good leadership and management requires a number of significant skills, but today I want to review one in particular: encouragement.

You may have completed years of college and training, and you may have learned many impressive skills in order to rise to the position you are in today, but sincere encouragement is one of the most powerful tools you can use to motivate people to work hard and develop loyalty.

Encouraging your employees and teammates is a significant part of your leadership responsibility and success, whether they are digging ditches, writing complex computer code, responding to emergencies, teaching, helping, driving, selling a product or assembling parts. No matter what kind of work is being done, an employee will do a better job if they receive encouragement from their...

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Riding the Waves of Change

If you have ever gazed at the ocean for awhile, you saw it change with every wave that came to shore. Life is like that; waves of change come along, sometimes small and sometimes gigantic, and nothing is exactly the same after that.

There is a myth in our culture that promotes the notion that people hate change. The truth is – people love change! People change their clothes, hairstyle, and favorite restaurant. They rearrange their furniture, travel to new places and do things to add variety to their lives on a regular basis.

There is, however, a type of change that people don’t like: that is any change they have little to no control over. In today’s world, we no longer have a guarantee of lifetime employment and technology has revolutionized the workplace. Many of us have heard the dreaded words, “Our company is switching to a new computer system,” and all of a sudden you are fearful that you’re going to feel frustrated and confused for a long...

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The Game of Success: It's Your Move

If you’re not experiencing the success you desire in your career, what moves do you need to make in order to advance? Like the game of chess, progress toward success requires focused attention, strategy, and practice. 

Pay Attention:

Evaluate where you are now… and why. Have you made good or bad choices to get where you are? Are you close to your goal, but not quite there yet or are you way behind?

Decide what is working and what’s not. Are you doing the best with what you have or are you sabotaging yourself with a negative attitude, poor life choices, fear, or a victim mindset? Answering these questions takes courage, but honest answers and a firm grasp of reality are empowering.

Strategy:

Find out what you can do about what’s not working well. Be brave enough to ask people who know you if they see behaviors that might be slowing your success. Ask trusted advisers at work what they would recommend to overcome challenges in your job. A professional...

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What Does it Take to Be a Leader?

You may have heard of The Peter Principle, which states that, “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Laurence J. Peter, a Canadian scholar, author and lecturer (1910-1990) wrote a book with the same title expounding on his observations about how organizations work. In a nutshell he says if you are great at your job, you will likely be promoted to a management or leadership position with a different set of skills required and languish there with little chance for real success or job satisfaction.

Before you assume you are doomed to a lifetime of misery drowning in a job you’re not ready for, let’s look at how you can prepare for greater opportunity and success in a leadership role. Competent, respected leaders usually display the following qualities:

Integrity – Inspiring leaders put this quality first, because they know that their employees or volunteers will follow their example. No business, ministry,...

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Raise the Bar to Elevate Your Life

I ran track in high school for awhile, and I loved high jumping. What excited and scared me most was knowing that I had to raise the bar if I wanted to win.  For that to happen I must have cleared the previous height, but I knew the next level would be more difficult.

During a track meet the bar was set higher than I had cleared before. On my third attempt I gave it everything I had and cleared the bar but injured my ankle, forcing me to drop out of the meet.

My ankle eventually healed and I started to compete again, but I never jumped as high as I did the day I got hurt. I had convinced myself that if I couldn’t get past a certain height as a member of the varsity track team I might as well not even try to compete. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I realized that my problem wasn’t that I had reached the pinnacle of my athletic ability, but rather I didn’t want to raise the bar for fear of suffering another injury.

To this day, whenever I...

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How NOT to Manage an Employee

As a psychologist and executive coach, I am always interested to observe the way people demonstrate either good or bad habits in the way they conduct business. I remember well a time I was shopping at a well known chain store when I witnessed first-hand how those in leadership should NOT manage their employees.

The customer service specialist who was assisting me ran into a snag while trying to complete my transaction. After having pushed almost every button, she exhausted her personal knowledge base of solutions and had to request assistance from her store manager. By this time, it was obvious that she was feeling embarrassed and moderately anxious.

When the manager arrived he had a scowl on his face and looked put out by the request for help.  Without acknowledging his employee, or me (the customer spending money in his store), he abruptly punched some numbers into the computer, made a poorly veiled critical comment to his employee and stomped away. It was quite evident that...

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Essential Communication Tips for Leaders

One of the most powerful skills a leader should strive to master is communication. He or she may have brilliant ideas and the vision to solve problems and accomplish daunting missions, but if the ideas and direction can’t be communicated effectively to others, the mission may produce weak results and fall short of the goal. When that occurs, low morale among the ranks usually follows.

I recently came across a list in New Man Magazine of nine principles of communication every leader should adopt. To be the kind of leader that not only gets results, but also earns the respect and loyalty of those you work with, you will want to learn and consistently apply these principles.

1. Dispense information freely to build esprit de corps. People are much more willing to enthusiastically participate when they know what they’re doing, why and how. Leaders who play close to the vest in order to maintain the appearance of power tend to alienate their teams.

2. Go out of...

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